What am I missing Macrovision?

So I’m catching up on my tech news and I come across this headline…

Macrovision Files Lawsuit Against Sima and Interburn’s DVD Copying Products
Macrovision Corporation (Nasdaq: MVSNNews) announced today that it has filed suit against Sima Products Corporation (“Sima”) and Interburn Enterprises Inc. (“Interburn”). The lawsuit charges that Sima’s “Video Enhancers,” which are principally used to allow consumers to make unauthorized copies of copyrighted DVDs, infringe Macrovision’s patented copy protection technology and also violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).

Which got me completely confused on several fronts.

According to MacroVision CEO Bill Krepick, “Sima and Interburn infringe Macrovision’s intellectual property by offering products that enable users to make unauthorized copies of copyrighted content by illegally removing our copy protection system.”

Now maybe I’m reading this wrong, but the way I understand it, the CEO of MacroVision, a company that sells copy protection software to DVD publishers, is sending out a press release saying…

“Our software doesn’t work. It sucks.We can’t stop a bunch of little companies from writing software that completely busts our copy protection that we are selling for millions of dollars to publishers.”

If that’s the case, why in the world are DVD publishers paying Macrovision any money at all?

It’s not like they can stop ripoff shops that illegally rip DVDs, and manufacture counterfeit DVDs and sell them on the streets around the world. The cat’s obviously out of the bag. The software is readily available for those crooks.

For the folks who want to upload DVDs illegally for distribution on P2P sites, once again the cat is out of the bag and has been for years. It’s been easy for these bad guys and girls to crack the Macrovision code and make the content available in any number of file formats.

So if Macrovision can’t stop the bad guys, just what exactly is their purpose in life?

For the Average Joes, it’s not like its easy to rip a DVD. The time it takes, and the processes that you must go through, and then the size of the files, all make it more trouble than its worth to try to copy it to your harddrive to watch from your PC or say your laptop when you are travelling. In spite of the fact that you bought your DVD legally and own it fair and square.

For the average joes, it’s not easy to make a backup copy of the DVD that you know your little kid is going to scratch, or in my case, that I scratch from handling and playing often. Not only is it not easy, but because of the Macrovision copyprotection, it’s completely illegal, despite the fact that you paid your hard earned money for the DVD.

So just what is the purpose of having Macrovision copy protection on DVDs?To raise the price to consumers? To make things more difficult for them? To make sure its illegal to backup DVDs we have purchased?

Am I missing something here?

I could see if the stuff worked and it kept the bad guys from doing bad things. Then it would have to be a price consumers paid. Publishershave a right to protect their content.But, it obviously doesn’t work. If it did, there would be nothing to sue anyone over. Instead they would be taking out ads saying how they kicked all the bad guys’ asses. But they aren’t. They are suing companies and admitting their software sucks.

So hows bout we cut consumers a break and get this shit away from our DVDs.

<blog discussions>

55 thoughts on “What am I missing Macrovision?

  1. You guys are all talking about DVDs but it is also on some VHS tapes. I was trying to copy some of my old VHS tapes onto DVDs and I\’d get a message on my TV that said the tape could not be copied because of it\’s encoded with Macrovision. That is really annoying! VHS tapes break down over time and most of these titles I am trying to transfer to DVD are \”How To\” type videos that are not available any more and were never available as a DVD. I own these tapes and I am ticked off that I cannot archive some of my collection because some stupid company was/is trying to make it difficult to make illegal copies. I guess I am going to have to find a place that makes these illegal copies because they are the only ones that are not troubled by Macrovision\’s encoding scheme. it\’s only the legit consumer that is screwed over! I\’m going to go find a video stabalizer to purchase. I would much rather support the people making the stabalizers & enhancers than the jerks that take away my right to own a backup of my legally purchased videos! I have many choice words for Macrovision but I don\’t think they need to be said out loud! I hope Macrovision goes belly up soon! No more of this junk! We are the consumer, we should have some say in what we are buying and what we can do with it!

    Comment by Eric E -

  2. good

    Comment by imdbcn -

  3. As far as I am concerned, the reply from Aano Anarch above completly misses the point. The complaints I find on the internet are not about the obviously silly practice of copying dvd’s to vhs, or the minimal cost of copy protection to each consumer. It is the fact that personal videos taken with personal video cameras are distorted when copied to dvd. This is a process which dvd recorders are said to be able to do, but because of Macrovision, they can’t. Contacting the manufacturer of my dvd recorder gave me the reply ” This is a legal problem which must be delt with through
    Macrovision “. This legality is envorced by whom? Obviously only Macrovision!! Anyway, go to the Macrovision website and see if you can find any way for a consumer to “deal” with Macrovision. They do not want to be contacted and I know why! When I tried to copy my tapes to dvd I made a startling discovery! My personal videos shot with my personal video cameras are copy protected!! Wow! And I did that without even knowing it! Thank you Macrovision for makeing it possible for me to copy protect my own tapes against my own use!

    Comment by Vernon Kniss -

  4. Hi!

    Consumers should take a look at the super-tiny program DVD Decrypter as it busts any/all DVD encryption and allows you to later burn a backup of DVDs you own. A simple Web search will reveal places to download the program.

    Comment by asiatiques nues -

  5. hello!!
    Use DVD Decrypter v.3.5.2 (Freeware) to decrypt any DVD onto your computer. Then DVD Shrink (Freeware) to fit the dual-layer disc down to 4.7 GB. Then Nero or any DVD Burning Software, and it’ll play in any DVD player/Computer/XBOX you’ve got

    Comment by belles blondes -

  6. I just got a dvd recorder & thought I could transfer all my old vhs tapes to dvd. As others have said, movies I already own & paid for. Every tape said protected. I have a couple hundred movies! I’m not going to buy them all again in dvd! Again as others have said, the real criminals who want to make thousands of illegal copies & sell them always find an illegal way to get around the protection anyway, so what is it all for? To prevent little old me from copying my kids movies onto a different format so they can enjoy them for many more years & watch them in the car instead of only in the house? It’s a bunch of crap.

    Comment by trg -

  7. That illegal copies DVD to the companies prices up to a level of their illegal spears were not done is necessary to reduce. Then the profit will be in hands of the manufacturer. Also it is not necessary быдет to raise against all burglars of actions of proceeding. I so think.

    Comment by whales -

  8. Well, here I am again with the same complaint; MACROVISION!! I am getting more and more disgusted with the way Macrovision is messing up my good tapes. Typing Macrovision into Google will get you pages of people haveing trouble with this thing, along with pages of maybe will maybe won’t work fixes, some which are quite expensive. Why should I pay a lot of money to make a product I purchased work the way it should? How can Macrovision get away with this? They should be made to call back all dvd recorders and remove their mess! This may bankrupt the company, but no company ever deserved it more!

    Comment by Vernin Kniss -

  9. good!

    Comment by 11nong -

  10. I recently purchesed a “stand alone” dvd recorder. Big fat letters on the box stated I can copy my vhs tapes to dvd. It is BULL!! Because of the Macrovision fiasco most of my tapes are distorted. Even my 8mm tapes played back from my 8mm camera. What right does Macrovision have to mess with my personal tapes? One of my own tapes which I produced myself gives the report “This tape is copy protected.” Is there any thing I can do to make my dvd recorder usefull?

    Comment by Vernin Kniss -

  11. hello friends!

    Comment by Gambia phone card -

  12. Hey Mark,

    Let’s say you owned a basketball team and arena whereby it could seat an unlimited amount of spectators. Then one day you find out numerous people on the street sold keys to the back door of the arena for half the price of a standard ticket.

    What would you do?

    Oh yes, and the same guy can crack the lock to every new lock on the arena you placed and still would charge about half or a say a third of your standard ticket price.

    I bet all of a sudden your thoughts about anti-copying would change.

    Comment by Barry -

  13. Mark is soooo right.

    I’m a Canadian and our government recently introduced a bill (C-60) that significantly alters the fair-use rights of Canadians and gives unregulated ISPs the right to collect a shit load of private information on me WITHOUT my knowledge or permission.

    Why? Because apparently the Canadian music industry is on the verge of collapse. I CALL BULLSHIT! In fact many big Canadian artists have come out against this legislation saying they won’t benefit from it nearly as much as the Canadian subsiduaries of American Record Companies ~cough~!

    It’s yet another government being bullied into protecting old and out-dated business models.

    Mark is right… there are too many genies out of the bottle. Legislation will only compound the problem.

    Give consumers a great product WITHOUT STRINGS at a fair price and the majority will pay for it. Start throwing bricks at your customers and calling them thieves and terrorists will put you out of business. Well should put you out of business but then you can always go running off to Capital Hill yelling the sky is falling and kablewie and few bills and a couple of laws later your back in business faster then you can say Microsoft!

    Comment by Matt Livingstone -

  14. Mark, thank you for thinking outside the box and inspiring people to talk about this stuff….as I was told by many content people – the protection is just something that they can tell the copyright holders. Your content is protected. This goes the same with the music biz and their fancy limits on burning digital music. How bout this one Mark – legal music downloading per consumer is not slowing the progress of p2p use by that consumer…pretty interesting trend 🙂

    Comment by Nick -

  15. Looks like the French are tired of this issue too. A search of Google using “French dvd copying” will turn up a bunch of links to this story from April 05.

    “French Court Orders DVDs Pulled From Store Shelves in Ruling Against Copy Preventions”



    Comment by Jerry Hesketh -

  16. By contrast, I think that the music industry’s relative success at going after file sharing sites and individuals who were illegally sharing copyrighted songs was the right course of action. The end result was that the music downloading industry has largely become a legitimized profit center for a number of companies, and the music industry has a new source of revenue. Good for them.

    What Macrovision and various other entities have done with their lawyers is far less intelligent. These people are looking rather unrealistically to technology to create an electronic barrier as close as they possibly can to their product. In doing so, they are trampling fair use in the name of protecting their profits. Does it make sense to deny fair use of a product based on the premise that the legitimate product owner might, theoretically, potentially, commit a crime by redistributing the product?

    Mark is correct that there are some logistics issues that prevent DVD copying and distribution in mass quantities to the degree that songs have been ripped and downloaded (my inference in comparison.) So the question is why doesn’t the MPAA and anyone else who has a vested interest in protecting the copyrighted movies simply take the example of the RIAA and go after those folks who actually break the laws by sharing movies illegally? The answer is simple. The DMCA has invented an illegal act that shouldn’t be illegal at all. And in doing so, the industry is going after software producers as if they are the source of the problem.

    IMO The DMCA is simply further evidence that our lawmakers are unable to address the needs of our society as technology has advanced. My advice as we move forward is to reconsider our votes. Perhaps instead of voting Democrat or Republican we should be voting young versus old, or even better tech savvy versus clueless.

    Comment by Rich Colbert -

  17. Amen Brother.

    Comment by KC -

  18. What’s strange is that Macrovision shouldn’t be the one filing the suit, because Macrovision isn’t negatively impacted.

    The studios can file, because unauthorized copies affect their bottom line (theoretically).

    But Macrovision? Macrovision has a credibility problem, true, but I doubt they have standing to sue. It’s like Kryptonite locks suing Bic for making a device that bypasses their lock, making it easier for users to steal bicycles.

    Comment by Manny Veloso -

  19. Something great about the internet is that people can violate copyright law and get away with it so easily. Raise your hand if you have mp3’s on your hard drive. The internet is like a modern day Robin Hood that gives power to people rather than corporations.

    Comment by HDTV Blog -

  20. Yeah it’s like everything said in corante.com. IP Lawyers are simply using the Macrovision patent portfolio as their way to hit the “off switch” on Sima (or at least throw a wrench in their works). Sure it implies that the Macrovision technology is easy to defeat; but, the suit does attack a weakness in the opposition’s position, so it’s worth doing.

    Comment by chris franklin -

  21. Our right to Fair Use of media we paid for takes a back seat to profit on all counts. More people should should speak out to law makers. We are sick of this crud. Theres a web page to learn more at http://www.fairuseday.com that has some good links

    Comment by Heather -

  22. I think the copy protection is cute. They’ve screwed the MPAA into buying a technology that doesn’t work.

    I knew a guy who ripped movies from the net. Maybe they should strip search everyone going into the theaters? I’ve seen some very good camcorder recorded movies. It’s always funny when someone walks through the picture and you’re trying to figure out if that is part of the movie. Star Wars was on the net the day it came out.

    The business model the Movies use is not working. Sell some of the older digitally renovated movies online. If you put it out in HD with great sound, people will pay for it. Use the netflix model but with the ability to download the movies. Test the download market with older movies no one buys anymore anyways. Start with ET. Have a couple of the stars do an online chat and sell the movie online.

    Sorry, got off subject. I just wonder what path the movie industry will take next? Do they not realize Movies are a choice? People choose to watch them. They are not food, drink, air. The things you can’t live without. Screw people ehough and they will rediscover camping.

    Comment by Aquariuzz -

  23. I am so in the crowd that thinks frivolous patents and lawsuits are hurting businesses all over the place. I don’t think the patent office should be dissolved, by any stretch of the imagination, but changes need to be made to prevent companies that are failing because of their poor business to use the US justice system to their advantage and line their pockets.

    Comment by Andrew Kaufmann -

  24. Oh perhaps I should mention that our FPGA-based set top box is like a custom highly optimized computer that can interact with any computer device (e.g. CD-burner, DVD-burner, IDE, Firewire, USB, RS232) and with any codec (we use MPEG4 Part 10 H.264 custom codecs, with optimized custom ASICs). It is a reliable as say a microwave or DVD player, instaneous results without noticing it’s supported via the Internet (all transparent). Very fast and as rock solid as a neonatal heart monitor.

    The IPTV network has by default no DRM. We constantly multicast 1,000s of channels (much of it educational or public domain) wirelessly perpetually without any load or stress on our servers, regardless if there are 100 people or 10,000 people watching (RTP/RTCP multicasting is way different than TCP/IP, but it doesn’t work on the normal Internet (but Internet 2) so we have tunnel it in HTTP or create our own network, which we did in a Wi-Fi hybrid UWB-like MESH network, amazing).

    The box obsfucates the transmission source, so theoritically anyone could retransmit/multicast cable TV or movies without anyone knowing. It’s like in the ether; encrypted via software defined radio, only capable of being decoded by our tamper proof STB, which doesn’t even communicate with the broadcast server, rather it just tunes into it like a radio dial!).

    Most importantly, anyone anywhere can broadcast their own advanced MPEG4-media channel to a real TV network, in real time, around the world, completely for free! We are also building the definitive MPEG7/MPEG21 world system, that supersedes the WWW and Google by an order of magnitude.

    Thus not only will our dynamic firmware FPGA allow you to copy two copy proof DVDs, without risk to us (3rd party remote upgradable firmware), you don’t even need the DVD, you can burn the full resolutions 4.5 GB or whatever it is DVD simply out of thin air, wait until you see it in action, amazing!).

    The network is completely decentralized, extremely viral, the boxes are absolutely FREE, and the service is absolutely FREE. The “Definitive IPTV Infrastructure” of RTP/RTCP will be managed by a 501(c)3 non-profit entity. We are building a massive target market to upsell premium content to, but more importantly we are liberating the communication networks from the bias of corporate profits of the liberals and the neoconservativism militarism of the right (identical to the socialist dream of the liberals). We have robots and CNC machines building all of our stuff, 24 hours a day, completely automated. The boxes are very small (like a CD case) and extremely powerful, they also have relays in them so the more we have the faster our MESH network of ubiquitous broadband content will be.

    We took our expertise in medical projects requiring FDA-approval and our work on satellites and military technology with Ball Aerospace, JPL, NASA, Lockheed Martin, and defense contractors to build the most ridiculous network ever. We are well capitalized and have extremely strong alliances with the honest heads of our industry.

    We’ve been working on this for over 6 years and obviously I’ve put quite a lot of thought into this. Although, I’d love to hear your comments, ideas, or suggestions. Thanks.

    Comment by Ryan -

  25. Mark, you are the beacon of light radiating a message of hope in a country morphing into a totalitarian democracy while simultaneously instigating a world of complete chaos. I just wanted to say thank you, explicitly, that your words and actions are not forgotten, rather they are history in action.

    This is a funny post about MacroVision, especially the comment that they are broadcasting that their technology doesn’t work. What’s the difference in just putting Mark Will Sue if You Copy on your DVDs? No encryption, no copy prevention scheme — just sue the hell out of people who copy them!

    Which is essentially what they are doing. I say repeal the DMCA Act now. Ignorance.

    I can’t say it enough or at least loud enough, what you are doing with Grokster, with Landmark, with HDNet, with Lions Gate, with 2929, and everything you are involved in is nothing short of extraordinary.

    There’s a point where money doesn’t matter, it’s about the effects of your good works; an altruistic purpose that a Jewish man would call Tikkun Olam. Or a globalist like Tom Barnett would call connecting the gap to the core.

    Hopefully our paths will cross one day (considering you work with many people I do in L.A. and Miami). I’m also out here in Boulder where I have an engineering firm. We develop cutting edge special effects, film technology (transfer, color correction), MPEG4 chipsets, an IPTV infrastructure, set top boxes, revolutionary RTP/RTCP mutlicasting FPGAs, medical imaging, robotics, and a lot of stuff for the aerospace industry and DoD contracts. (The Javelin is out here, the new civilian military jet, most advanced 5th generation jet)

    I know HDNet is here or in Denver, so perhaps I’ll run into you guys. I just bought a piece of Boulder mountain (off Canyon Drive), where I plan to broadcast/multicast Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, and some proprietary wireless transmission in an ambitious attempt to dominate the IPTV wireless world of media. Feel free to join me, as you already have indirectly!

    Comment by Ryan -

  26. There is coverage and some funny comments about this over at http://toob.typepad.com.

    PS. Nice picture there, Mark!

    Comment by DaTSauce Guy -

  27. There is coverage and some funny comments about this over at http://toob.typepad.com.

    PS. Nice picture there, Mark!

    Comment by DaTSauce Guy -

  28. I would so vote for you if you’d just run for President
    ; }

    Comment by Barb Lawson -

  29. Mark, it’s really easy and fairly quick to rip a DVD today using DVD Shrink. I use DVD Shrink to make a backup especially with young kids around they tend to get scratched. I can rip a DVD to my PC in about 20 minutes and maybe 40 minutes to rip and burn to blank DVD.

    Comment by Brett Nordquist -

  30. people do still watch VHS and Walmart will support them!

    as slashdotted a few days ago:

    Comment by duhbLow7 -

  31. Using technological protection measures (TPMs) to try to stop unauthorized copying can never work. This is “snake oil” that Macrovision is selling, so it is not surprising that they are and will always fail.

    If it seems like news that TPMs can’t protect copyright, and that legal protection for TPMs have no place in a copyright act, please read my article: http://www.digital-copyright.ca/node/view/930

    Comment by Russell McOrmond -

  32. Use DVD Decrypter v.3.5.2 (Freeware) to decrypt any DVD onto your computer. Then DVD Shrink (Freeware) to fit the dual-layer disc down to 4.7 GB. Then Nero or any DVD Burning Software, and it’ll play in any DVD player/Computer/XBOX you’ve got.

    Comment by Nate Jensen -

  33. If you are looking for a great deal on DVD’s head to Indonesia, Thailand or Malaysia for a couple days. Head to one of the countless DVD shops and pay about 80 cents each, plus if you buy one hundred they give you fifty free.

    Guess these “DVD copy protection software” aren’t doing such a great job.

    Comment by Simon M -

  34. The water has been running out of the copyright protection bathtub for years and the entertainment industry has been using a public hair filter and lawyers to try and stop it.
    Everyone who buys a DVD should have the right to make a backup, and take it anywhere they like. I used to have a large DVD collection till I moved to Europe and went outside my “zone”. Give me a PVR and let me watch my movies where ever I decide to live, and let me make a backup till they find a more robust media.
    If Macrovision is selling a shoddy product perhaps they should stay shtum!

    Comment by Conánn -

  35. I think Douglas Adams wrapped it up nicely in “So long and thanks for all the fish”

    “Their fundamental design flaws are completely hidden by their superficial design flaws.”

    Comment by JonnyPage -

  36. Consumers should take a look at the super-tiny program DVD Decrypter as it busts any/all DVD encryption and allows you to later burn a backup of DVDs you own. A simple Web search will reveal places to download the program.

    Comment by M.A. Pinchera -

  37. The only reason Macrovision keep sueing the providers of these “video enhancer” boxes is because they themselves hold patents on methods of stripping the macrovision disruption from the video stream… the actual “video enhancer” itself isn’t illegal, just that it’s infringing macrovisions patents.

    Comment by Paul Cooke -

  38. The DVD thing has yet to bother me… but this is why I stopped buying music on CD. At one time I bought dozens of albums per year. Then I discovered mp3s. Then I heard the RIAA was adding copy protection to them. So I stopped buying them. I won’t buy music I can’t have in digital unemcumbered format. If there’s a hymn or the like out there for itms, I’ll use that. If not, I’ll either buy from a place like allofmp3.com, or I won’t buy at all. I went years without new music.

    When storage gets so large I can tote my movie collection around like I tote my DVD collection now… well, the MPAA will be next in my firing line. And I do buy dozens of movies per year… I recently switched to keeping them in those folder organizers because the actual cases were taking up too many shelves. Hundreds upon hundreds of movies (which makes me realize “dozens” might be an understatement).

    I’ve never been inclined to rip a movie, yet. But when I go to do it and it isn’t there… well, say goodbye, MPAA.

    Comment by MattW -

  39. Mark, you’ve got it in one — Macrovision is yet another attempt to abuse honest customers while not stopping anyone actually determined to infringe a copyright.

    As someone mentioned, Macrovision is licensed to change the signal coming out of DVD players (and Satellite receivers also, in soem cases) to “prevent the signal from being recorded”.

    Unfortunately, it also renders the signal unwatchable in some perfectly legal configurations of video hardware (let’s say you’re using your VCR as a TV tuner, for instance, and passing all signals through it.)

    I’d been wondering recently how well Sima’s box worked in order to solve this problem; I guess Macrovision is telling us that it works. That’s useful, at least 🙂

    Comment by Chuck Lawson -

  40. Several further comments:
    1) By not using macrovision, which obviously is crackable, the studios would save money
    2) Macrovision only offers a percentage accuracy in stopping movies from being clear when copied. That means that you may only get 80% of the videos with a quality ‘non copy’ macrovision encoding. So when the studios pay for macrovision during duplication they’re really only getting partial coverage anyway.

    Comment by Randy Peterman -

  41. I think DVDCCA is just as bad:

    I think it would be interesting to see if a media group (I’m pointedly looking at you, and HDNet’s original movies) sold DVDs of programs without any region encoding, or any other copyright protection suffered hurt sales. I would probably be more likely to buy any of them just because of consumer approval, but I would imagine I’m in the minority.

    The fact of the matter is that most people don’t know you can pirate DVDs, don’t know how to do it, and they go shopping at normal stores that don’t carry unauthorized copies of DVDs. For those that do know how to do it, they’re going to find a way anyway so it’s of no interest.

    Anyway, if you do it, I pledge to buy at least 2 of the DVDs… just do something good 🙂

    Comment by jss -

  42. Well said, Mark. As usual. 🙂 Why must these large corporations insist on preventing fair use?

    Comment by Scott Johnson -

  43. I don’t think that any DVD publisher will stop using MacroVision. Mark, as a manager (a progressive one, not a PHB, so maybe it won’t make as much sesne) you make business decisions. It is easier for managers to follow the crowd, because the crowd isn’t getting punished. If the crowd is buying MacroVision’s services, so be it. Then a middle manager who has zero handle on the technical issue will follow the crowd. Why? Because it won’t get them fired. If their – equally vapid and unintelligent – boss finds out the manager didn’t try to protect the DVD at all, the manager (thinks atleast) he will be fired.

    For a much better explanation in the very last section “A Reciepe” (with a more technical slant, and from an entirely different view-point) : http://www.paulgraham.com/icad.html

    Comment by JohnO -

  44. It’s the new american business model. “We don’t make money off of our product, we make money suing people who circumvent our failed attempt to cripple our product.”

    Comment by Skane -

  45. Every legally owned DVD can be copied for own use – as a backup. The idea of not be able to make a copy (for your own use) of an owned copyrighted media is a violation of a consumers rights. Nobody seems to care for that.
    What we have here is that legal consumer pays money (which is hidden in price of a DVD) for copy protection feature. So legal owners are being punished in two ways. One is: by being forced to pay more and another one by not being able to make backup. All that just because company want to make life a little bit more difficult for crackers (or whatever you call them).
    It doesn’t make any sense.

    Comment by L'e-szczur -

  46. This product sounds as useful as the million dollar copyright protection Sony introduced that was defeated with a permanent marker(http://www.theregister.co.uk/2002/05/14/marker_pens_sticky_tape_crack/). These bafoons write code that my eleven year old son could write, then after they sucker in a few million dollars worth of investors their only avenue left is to sue. Sue away, your still going out of business because you have a million dollar team of “coders” worth ten bucks. You didn’t miss a thing Mark!

    Real Coders:

    Comment by Rob Thrasher -

  47. Macrovision keeps getting money because they were able to establish their protection as the ‘standard’ in the industry. For that reason, they get the money from anyone who wants this. I would expect that some sort of anti-piracy provisions like this are required to even get your DVD/VHS out onto the general market and in the stores. It is sort of like being forced to pay protection money.

    My experience on copy-protection only applies to computer software/games, where developers have been required to implement some level of anti-piracy controls just to get their game on the shelves of stores (although I believe the requirements were put in place by the publishers/distributors and not the stores themselves).

    Comment by Brian -

  48. Well, when you’re entrenched in the business of stifling free markets and prolonging the inevitable, you’ll often find yourself engaged in behavior that only aims to protect your rather tenuous, obsolescent position.

    Or, as they said on the Flintstones, “We can’t allow this to happen! We might lose our cinchy jobs!” (paraphrased)


    Comment by Charles -

  49. Precisely, macrovision is a copy-protection built-in the dvd players, for which the dvd player manufacturers pay royalties regardless. To the best of my knowledge it’s an always-on protection, to prevent using the dvd player to make copies. This could be the vhs, but also another living room dvd recorder or tivo I guess. This type of protection could be turned off manually by changing a chip, but now there’s a software solution as well for which macrovision wants to sue.

    Copied dvd’s found in p2p or usenet are either from dvd’s without protection (most opera dvd’s for instance) or from decrypted dvd’s (look for “dvd decrypter” , “dvd digest”). So if you want to copy your own bought dvd, as a dvd, to your hdd, you need to decrypt it first.

    Comment by Richard Schild -

  50. There are a number of things going on here. The suit is, I believe, about the analog copy-protection that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act mandates VCRs to use and protects under section 1201(b) for other devices. See,

    Why would Hollywood want to continue to pay Macrovision for essentially useless technology? I would argue it is because they want to support the anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA. Without the DMCA, they fear losing control over how their works are distributed and how people experience their works. I’ve written more about it here:

    And more on why companies use DRM that doesn’t work here:

    Comment by Ernest Miller -

  51. I admit I haven’t been paying attention to the whole DVD copy protection “thing” lately, but what ever happened to “fair use” (i.e. personal use in the home). That’s what kept VCRs available in the first place when some movie and TV people wanted them to not be able to record.

    Like Mark said, the bad people who are going to do bad things in BIG ways aren’t slowed by this protection stuff. Me making a copy of a DVD just to have it also on VHS for my family in my home isn’t copyright infringment.

    Some day, there’s going to be a case which rules – correctly – that it’s actually illegal to stop me! (but we might pretty far from that step in the evolution of IP law)

    I suspect this is a case of “If you don’t make any technological attempt to protect, then you are implicitely agreeing there isn’t anything to protect.” That’s probably seen as the beginning of the end of the IP struggle for Hollywood.

    Not going to work, though. It’s almost technological snake oil.

    From my perspective as a computer scientist, the big picture is that our common understanding and laws surrounding intellectual property are decades behind our common understanding and laws surrounding physical property.

    I see this as the biggest barrier to actually entering the so-called “information age.” Our understanding of “information” is almost as underdeveloped today as what Native Americans thought about “land” when the whiteman came over and started to talk about “real estate property.” (yikes)

    I predict that if an nonviolent alien race arrived and discovered that our patent laws protect only the “expresion of an idea” and not an idea itself, they would smile, pack up, leave and advise the other friendly race to not bother this childlike-species for another few hundred years.


    Walks upright – check
    Language; verbal and written – check
    Democratic rule of law – check
    Free market capitalism – check
    Harnessed the atom – check
    Information – not yet

    Comment by Daniel Farfan -

  52. People still use VHS? Wow… I haven’t had a VHS player since… the early 90’s! Why on earth would you want to copy anything from DVD where the quality is nice to VHS where you can actually hear the tape hiss?!

    That being said… how much of the cost of Macrovision is actually coming down to consumers? I mean, if a new DVD movie from Best Buy only costs $14 on its initial release day… and that’s usually a movie plus a few ‘extra features’, sometimes on two DVDs… I’m thinking with sales in the millions, the cost per DVD sale must be in pennies. That’s really not enough to bitch about.

    The one thing we should all be bitching about is how easy it is for one corporation to sue others for stupid crap like this! And not just “We’re suing you because our software sucks” (although that is funny!), but also “We’re suing you because you ripped off our ripped off idea” (like White Wolf, makers of Vampire and Werewolf roleplaying games, suing Sony for making the schlock-fest that was “Underworld”) or Allstate suing Kellog’s and Kraft for having ‘flamable toasty foods… or even Mattel for suing someone for having ‘nudie’ pics of Barbie!

    Did you hear that Terry Schiavo’s parents want to sue because of the autopsy report? They’re going to sue… because of information.

    Can I sue because red, yellow and blue are primary colors, but purple, orange and green are only secondary colors? Who should I sue? Crayola?

    Maybe we really should kill all lawyers. And judges. Or just start using common sense. Is that too much to expect?


    Comment by Agno Anarch -

  53. Macrovision is a protection scheme designed to prevent recording DVDs on VHS. A video enhancer “prevents” Macrovision from working. It does not deal with copying DVDs on you PC. Macrovision is embedded in every DVD player sold in the US. If a DVD producer wants to use Macrovision, the DVD sends a code to the processor in your DVD player and Macrovision is enabled. The producer of the DVD then pays Macrovision a royalty for the protectiong, but only if they enable it.

    Macrovision has a history of filing suit against any company that creates a video processor that defeats it – intentionally or not. Read below for a somewhat technical explanation of how it works.

    There are many video processors that improve picture quality and inadvertantly eliminate Macrovision. As VCRs go away, so will Macrovision. 🙂

    Now for a quick geek moment on macrovision and “video enhancers.”

    A VCR has a circuit called the automatic gain control (AGC) that adjusts the level of the video signal during recording to maximize the dynamic range of the video signal. The AGC looks at the sync signal in the video signal and adjusts itself accordingly.

    Macrovision sends out false sync pules that causes the picture to get dim and then bright and then dim and so on. (You’ve seen this if you try to record a DVD with a VCR or tried to copy a tape with Macrovision encoding.) TVs don’t have an AGC, so you can watch the tape or DVD, but not copy it.

    A video enhancer connects inline with the video output cable coming from the DVD player or VCR. It passes all of the video information but sends out “enhanced or stablized” sync signals that don’t have the Macrovision pulses. You can now record the signal with your VCR.

    Comment by Douglas -

  54. It` makes sense to me. I think people will see what Macrovision is doing and it will ultimately hurt them or make them adjust their priorities.

    Comment by Mike -

  55. Yep, it’s pure silliness. Some DVD players even give the specific option of disabling MacroVision. More silly flailing on copyright issues…

    Comment by Scott -

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